Anyone who travels to SE Asia will, sooner or later, encounter laksa. It is basically a spicy curry soup, often swimming with seafood. Having never grown up with curries or chillies or seafood, I initially was resistant to laksa. Yet, because of my annual visits to Malaysia, I eventually had to capitulate and give it a try. Penang, which is a celebrated food centre in Asia, was where I had Penang Laksa with mackerel. Getting and keeping the big fat noodles on my spoon was a major challenge. Then, I experienced the Sarawak Laksa while visiting Kuching. Laksa was becoming more and more mainstream for me.
One of the redemptive values of laksa is that it is a great and tasty way to introduce vegetables into the diet. So, when I discovered a ‘veggie-rich’ laksa recipe, I introduced it to my wife. Like me, she had little experience with curries, chillies and seafood. Her initial approval encouraged me to press on.
The following recipe is:
Laksa 101 - A Recipe for Beginners & Westerners
25 minutes prep, cooking 15 minutes.
250 gram rice noodles (these noodles expand so consider use half that amount, even if you are a noodle lover!)
1 Tablespoon oil
1 onion, diced finely
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
3 Tablespoons laksa or Thai red curry paste (laksa paste often has shrimp paste, which can be loved or loathed - if you are not use to it, try the red curry paste)
250 g chicken, thinly slice
2 cans of coconut cream (another option is Carnation light & creamy coconut flavoured condensed milk)
2 Tablespoons fish sauce
1 carrot cut into strips
1 cup (or more) sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup (or more) peas, preferably baby peas. Can use frozen peas.
2 cups bean sprouts (fresh is best)
1/4 cup fresh coriander
1. Soak noodles 10 minutes in boiling water, drain;
2. Heat oil in the pan, gently fry onion and garlic until translucent;
3. Place chicken and laksa or Thai red curry paste in pan, cook 2 minutes;
4. Add coconut milk & fish sauce;
5. Bring to boil, add carrot and mushrooms, return to boil. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes;
6. Add frozen peas, bean sprouts and noodles just before serving.
For laksa veterans, add generous laksa paste and all the seafood you like.
Give it a try and you’ll feel like you are in tropical Asia!